Cytidine deaminases are enzymes that catalyze the removal of an amino group from cytidine, forming uridine. APOBEC3 (ApolipoproteinB mRNA editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide like) proteins are cytidine deaminases that deaminate cytidines in polynucleotides (RNA/DNA), resulting in editing of their target substrates. Mammalian APOBEC3 proteins are an important element in cellular defenses against retrovirus replication, and this “restriction” of retroviral infections is partially due to the cytidine deaminase activity of the APOBEC3.The present protocol (Nair et al., 2014) describes the assay to detect the deaminase activity of mouse APOBEC3 protein, which targets cytidines present in TCC or TTC motifs in a single-stranded DNA substrate. In brief, the protein preparation to be assayed is incubated with a fluorophore-labeled oligodeoxynucleotide containing the deamination target motif (radiolabeled oligonucleotide substrates have also been successfully used by other groups). Cytidines in the oligonucleotide are deaminated to uridines; the addition of Uracil DNA Glycosylase (UDG) catalyzes the hydrolysis of the N-glycosylic bond between uracil and sugar, generating an abasic (AB) site in the oligonucleotide. Mild alkali treatment cleaves the substrate oligonucleotide at the AB site; cleaved products are resolved from uncleaved substrate by denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and visualized on a fluorescence scanner.
The protocol described here is mainly adapted from that described by Iwatani et al. (2006) with modifications. The assay can, of course, be used to detect the activity of other APOBEC3 deaminases targeting DNA substrates, using oligonucleotides containing the cytidine-containing target sequence for the deaminase.
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